Solar Power Basics – Is Solar Power Right for Me?

Let’s look at some general considerations in the mini pv-anlage 600w komplettset power equation. If you currently have an average home and pay around $125 per month for electricity, at current inflation rates you will pay upwards of $90,000 for electricity over the next 30 years. It is that compounding rate working against you. This is if inflation rates stay the same. In the last decade several categories of consumables have exceeded the general inflation rate, and energy is one of them.

For the last 35 years, solar panel costs have remained constant at around $5 per watt. In the last two years the prices have dropped considerably. You can purchase high-grade panels for under $2 a watt now. As well, there is a 30% federal tax credit on residential solar. This is not a write-off, it is basically cash-back. Systems installed before 2016 qualify for this credit.

There are basically two types of solar power installations. The first is “Grid-Tie”. This is where your solar panels feed electricity directly back into the power lines. When you do this, your meter “spins backwards”. At night you draw power from the power lines as usual. Whatever power you created during the day comes directly of your bill. The downside of grid-tie is that if the power lines go down, you do not have power. Even in the day, your system must be turned off so that you do not feed power into lines while the repair technicians are working on them. Your location must have a “Net-Metering” agreement with the local commercial power company. This allows you to feed power into their lines and have them ostensibly pay you for it. The second type of system is “Battery-Based”. This is where you charge up batteries during the day and use the power from them at night. In this type of system, you’ll have power pretty much constantly. The downside is that the cost of batteries is high and they must be replaced every decade or so.

With the grid-tie system, you must have a NABCEP-certified electrical installer to build your system. Anything that attaches to the main electrical lines has to be inspected as well (permitting and inspection). With a battery-based system, if you are the home-owner, you can do the work yourself (in most jurisdictions). The cost of having a grid-tie system professionally installed is comparable to buying batteries for a battery-based system you install yourself. You can also do a hybrid system and add some batteries to a grid-tie system to give you a little back-up power. Most people just buy a generator for back-up power on grid-tie systems. Along with the federal tax credits, there are also many states and municipalities that offer solar tax credits and incentives. Having multiple incentive programs can significantly reduce your costs and shorten pay-back time. Pay-back time on average is 5-7 years.

With battery-based systems, what are the skills required to install a system? A solar power system is basically a battery-charging system. Instead of using a plug-in battery charger, you are using solar panels. You’ll need a “charge controller”. This is just like a car battery charger, but the solar panels feed it the power instead of plugging it in to the wall. Solar charge controller are much smarter than car battery chargers. They are designed for maintenance-free operation and to keep your batteries healthy. The one item in a solar charging system that makes it different than just a battery charger is the “Inverter”. It changes the DC battery voltage into AC house current.

Hooking-up these components is not difficult. Doing is safely requires knowing some basic guidelines as to wire sizes and physical arrangement. If you can handle basic hand-tools and could build an above-ground pool or deluxe dog house, you can build a battery-based solar power system. The major component line-up is simply: Solar panels, charge controller, batteries, inverter. You do add a circuit-breakers between each one so you can disconnect everything. There are vendors all over the US who are eager to get you what you need.

Once you learn the basics, you can scale it up to any size. You are just using more panels, bigger batteries, a larger inverter and larger wire. Everything scales up nicely. The only maintenance on a battery-based solar system is keeping water in the batteries (unless you have maintenance-free batteries) and adjusting the angle of the panels a few times a year. If you like, you can buy panel mounts that automatically track the sun during the day. This gives about 20% more power. Most people just make panel mounting frames out of decking lumber or angle-iron. You are just making a rectangular frame to bolt the panels on with an axle-bolt at the bottom so you can adjust the angle of the panel. A small strut arm comes out so you can lock it in position. Simple! Panel frames can also be mounted on top of wooden poles or metal pipe.

Now let’s talk about the financial aspect of solar energy. We’ve all been prey to what are basically ad campaigns which portray solar energy as a fringe technology. This is all part of a program which tries to protect an endangered-species, your monthly bill. Solar energy works very well. If it didn’t, we would not have an International Space Station or Satellite TV. Panels are now known to last for over 40 years. This is because that is how long ago they were invented. Yes, they will be working after all readers of this article are gone.

This is crucial to calculating the financial viability of a solar power installation. Why? Because whatever size installation you invest in will be paid back to you in increased home value when you sell your house. That system will still be working 40 years from now. When people look at homes in their price-range and you home has a solar power plant on it, it gives you a tremendous edge in the market. This effect will only increase. Because of this, all the energy you ever produce with a system will have been for free. You get your system cost back when you sell. I sold my solar home in 90 minutes to the second viewer for over-asking without an agent. I retired off the proceeds in my 40’s. Yes, solar is a good investment.

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